Judge Denies Delay on Sutter Health Settlement

Yesterday, a judge decided to deny the delay of Sutter Health's $575 million settlement with California Attorney General Becerra regarding unfair competition in Northern California. Following is statement from Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition. 
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For Immediate Release: Friday, July 10, 2020

CONTACT:
Rachel Linn Gish, Director of Communications, Health Access California, rlinngish@health-access.org, 916-532-2128 (cell)
Anthony Wright, Executive Director, Health Access California, awright@health-access.org, 916-870-4782 (cell)

JUDGE DENIES DELAY ON SUTTER HEALTH SETTLEMENT

  • Supporting $575 Million Settlement and Agreements Against Anti-Competitive Practices, Consumer Advocates and Academic Experts Argued Against Delay
  • New Petris Center Study Shows Sutter Health Has 19 Years of Cash Reserves, Yet Still Asks To Push Off Commitments; Other Large Hospital Chains Like Adventist and Sharp Have Nearly 10 Years of Reserves While Charging High Rates of Struggling Businesses.
  • Sutter Health’s Tactics Show Need For Pending SB 977 (Monning), to More Comprehensives Address Hospital Consolidation and Anti-Competitive Practices

SACRAMENTO – Yesterday, a judge decided to deny the delay of Sutter Health’s $575 million settlement with California Attorney General Becerra regarding unfair competition in Northern California. Following is statement from Anthony Wright, Executive Director of Health Access California, the statewide health care consumer advocacy coalition.

“Health care consumers, employers, and all who pay premiums are glad that the judge denied this delay sought by Sutter Health. The current COVID-19 crisis only increases the urgency for Sutter to stop its anti-competitive practices that serve to inflate their prices, and otherwise abide by the $575 million settlement to which they previously committed. Now more than ever, Northern Californians need relief from the so-called Sutter surcharge they face in part because of Sutter Health’s concentrated power, as well as their anti-competitive practices and contract provisions. This settlement begins to attack the reason why inpatient rates are 70% higher in Northern California, and premiums are typically $3,000 more for coverage here than in Los Angeles.”

The new Petris Study is available HERE. “It’s hard for Sutter to claim that they need to push off their commitments when Sutter has 19 years of cash reserves available, according to a new study. Especially in these tough economic times, lots of businesses and families would love 19 years of reserves right now.”

“Several large hospital systems, including Sutter, Adventist and Sharp, have around a decade’s worth of cash reserves if not more–at the same time they charge high rates to families and employers struggling in this economy. We need oversight over the consolidation and anti-competitive practices that allow big hospital chains to stockpile such reserves while there is such need.”

SB 977: “The tactics of Sutter Health show the need to address the issues of hospital concentration and anti-competitive practices comprehensively through legislation like SB 977, and not just lawsuit-by-lawsuit.  SB 977 by Senator Monning would provide Attorney General Xavier Becerra to be able to review transactions hospital takeovers by other for-profit chains or private equity firms. Our Attorney General needs more anti-trust tools to take on the righteous cause of addressing health care consolidation and rising costs due to anti-competitive behavior. Bigger is often not better for consumers, and we need to have public oversight over this transformation of our health system happening under our noses. Health care consumers need continued action against this trend that can lead to health care monopolies, less competition, and ever-increasing health prices.”

Resources

The Distribution of Provider Relief Payments Among California Health Systems

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